T.I. to Star Opposite Denzel Washington

Billboard is reporting that Atlanta rapper T.I. is hard at work on his second film, “American Gangster,” which pits him alongside Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. He is also developing a movie project through his own film company, in addition to recording his fifth album, “T.I. vs. T.I.P.,” the follow-up to this year’s “King.”

“American Gangster” revolves around a 1970s drug lord who smuggles heroin into Harlem, N.Y., by concealing it inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam. T.I., who made his film debut this year in “ATL,” will play Washington’s nephew, a character he calls “somewhat of a stretch.”

“Right now I’m learning everything I can about my character. I’m just there to soak things up,” T.I. tells Billboard.com. “There’s a bunch of Academy Award-winners on this cast and I’m just there to learn. I’m in school.” The rapper is also working on a script for the first movie from his company, Grand Hustle Films. “It’s coming along quite nicely,” he says. “It’s gonna be a comedy and it’s gonna be funny as hell.”

On the music end, T.I. is featured on Beyonce’s upcoming album, “B’Day,” and the Justin Timberlake single “My Love,” which was produced by Timbaland. A video for the latter will be shot next week.

Though T.I. remains tightlipped about his own album, he is contributing to projects by Young Buck and Young Jeezy, as well as his Grand Hustle/Atlantic artists Big Kuntry, Governor and Young Dro. He is featured on the latter’s first single “Shoulder Lean,” which currently sits atop Billboard Radio Monitor’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart.